Insights from Ancient Indian Philosophy with Devdutt Pattanaik

In this episode Devdutt Patnaik joins us for an honest conversation with Mukesh Bansal on SparX Podcast

Insights from Ancient Indian Philosophy with Devdutt Pattanaik

The key idea of the video is that Indian philosophy emphasizes the importance of self-improvement, understanding different perspectives, long-term perspective, and creating value for society in achieving personal growth and success in business.

00:00 πŸ“š Indian philosophy emphasizes the impermanence of victory, conquering oneself, and the relevance of mythology in modern India, as discussed by mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, who transitioned from medicine to mythology and found success by nurturing his hobby and repurposing information.

  • Indian philosophy is based on the impermanence of victory, conquering oneself, and the relevance of mythology in modern India, as discussed by renowned mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik in an interview with Mukesh Bansal.
  • The speaker transitioned from a career in medicine to mythology and realized that ancient stories contain valuable ideas, which he used to solve problems in his professional life and found popular among his friends.
  • Nurturing a hobby without planning can lead to unexpected career opportunities and success.
  • Reading academic books that were not widely known or read, the speaker stumbled upon a treasure trove of knowledge, emphasizing the importance of investing time and effort in personal hobbies and tasks without a specific target orientation.
  • The speaker discusses how he unintentionally combined his job and hobby, finding happiness and income, by nurturing his hobby and using various skills in different departments, ultimately prioritizing return on investment.
  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of repurposing information and utilizing archives and libraries for knowledge management.

11:35 🌳 A mango tree teaches us to focus on our own growth and benefit others without worrying about specific outcomes, while interdisciplinary study leads to a unity of knowledge and experts discussing ideas outside their specialty.

  • Designing a systematic system that supports productivity and outcomes is crucial, as seen in the speaker's example of organizing his house, staff, and work to bring knowledge to a larger audience.
  • A mango tree focuses on its own survival and growth, producing fruits that benefit others, without worrying about the specific outcomes or trying to be something it's not.
  • Interdisciplinary study is important as it allows us to see patterns and connections between different subjects, leading to a unity of knowledge and experts in various fields discussing ideas outside their specialty.
  • The speaker struggles with going to the gym but enjoys reading and writing books.
  • The speaker discusses how writing every morning helps them rewire their brain and improve their mood throughout the day.
  • The speaker discusses the process of creating illustrations for a book, including the need to study art and search for relevant artworks on the internet.

17:40 πŸ“š Understanding different perspectives and cultures is crucial in business; toxic words contribute to a toxic world; creating value and focusing on investment rather than return are key principles in achieving success.

  • The speaker discusses the importance of continuous improvement and communication in achieving success, and how his books and illustrations serve as powerful tools for inspiration and guidance in the business and entrepreneurial community.
  • Different cultures have different perspectives and ways of thinking, and understanding this can help in business and management.
  • Violent and toxic words used in society, such as in business and media, are contributing to a toxic and violent world, leading to unhappy relationships and stress.
  • Modern business strategies, such as building modes, guerrilla marketing, and ambush tactics, are heavily influenced by war strategies, but there is a need for a different model that moves away from the mindset of stealing and focuses on creating a virtuous cycle of providing goods and services in exchange for revenue.
  • Creating value for others is essential in business, as it leads to repeat orders, referrals, and financial success.
  • Investment is more important than return in business, and the concept of ego and insecurity is prevalent among rich and powerful individuals, as Indian philosophy teaches that the war will never end and victories are temporary.

28:51 πŸ’‘ Entrepreneurs should focus on identifying opportunities, creating relevant products, scaling business models, and building strong teams by understanding basic human needs, while also considering the importance of wealth generation, taxation, and bribery in economic principles.

  • Entrepreneurs should focus on identifying opportunities, creating relevant products, scaling business models, and building strong teams by understanding the basic human needs for goods, services, resources, power, and knowledge.
  • Luxury goods and brands provide a sense of power and confidence, while businesses that focus on commodities may resort to monopolistic practices to control the market.
  • The top 10 richest people in the world are brand builders and innovators, while in India, they control resources and manage the government, but Indian entrepreneurship is now being commoditized.
  • The journey of self-discovery involves understanding how wealth is generated and asking questions about the sources of wealth, such as through jobs, businesses, and investments, which is important for professionals and individuals alike.
  • Taxation and bribery are both forms of money flow, and wealth only has value when it is in motion, which are economic principles that should be applied in universities and institutions.
  • There is a business opportunity in an undiscovered market, and a businessman turns everything into an opportunity by exploring spaces where others won't go.

37:23 🌱 Survival is a struggle for all living beings, and success means being alive; the transmission of traditional knowledge in India was disrupted by colonialism, leading to a rejection of modernity and a focus on cosmetic culture, but understanding history and logic is crucial for survival and improvement.

  • Survival is a constant struggle for all living beings, including humans, and success simply means being alive, which is why even plants go through the same struggle.
  • A poor man discovers the power of opportunity and resourcefulness through a story about a mouse merchant who turns a dead rat into wealth, highlighting the misunderstanding of mythology, management, and spiritual teachings.
  • In modern India, the transmission of knowledge and cultural practices, such as eating with a thali, has been unconsciously passed down through generations, but the colonial era disrupted this process.
  • The rejection of modernity and the return to traditional practices, such as using chopsticks or thalis, reflects a realization that modernization has not solved our problems and instead amplified them, mirroring the mistake made by Europeans in the past.
  • China and India believe in aggregation and building upon existing knowledge, while the West tends to think in terms of find and replace, but both approaches are important for survival and improvement, as understanding the history and logic behind innovations and laws helps us better understand humanity and our industries.
  • The shift in Indian identity towards a more cosmetic focus on Bollywood culture is a result of the lack of transmission of traditional culture and the influence of Western conquest ideals, leading to a need for individuals to conquer themselves and seek power.

46:38 πŸ“š Investing in the long term and being content with wealth is the key to success, businesses should exist for the society and industry, and practicing generosity leads to personal growth and success in business.

  • Investing in the long term and being content with wealth is the key to success, as exemplified by the concept of Vishnu in Hinduism.
  • The fundamental Indian idea is that businesses should exist for the society and industry, and once success is achieved, the conversation should shift towards utilizing capabilities for the greater good, similar to the concept of a philosopher king in the West.
  • The speaker discusses the concept of consumption and the importance of being a nourisher rather than a consumer in relationships and society, highlighting how hoarding and the desire for wealth can lead to control and inequality.
  • Investing in others and practicing generosity leads to personal growth and success in business, regardless of one's physical location or position in a company.
  • Creating a virtue cycle of success involves focusing on creating an ecosystem of brilliant teachers rather than just building more schools and having more students.
  • Generating wealth to help others is a more effective approach than simply helping the poor.

56:43 πŸ“š Indian philosophy emphasizes long-term perspective and continuous existence, using both Western and Indian philosophies to understand timeless epics like the Ramayana, which address fundamental human issues that remain relevant today.

  • Indian philosophy takes a long-term perspective, as seen in the concept of rebirth, and this is similar to the functioning of the human brain, where the left brain is focused on short-term, utilitarian thinking, while the right brain is more open to new opportunities and threats.
  • Indian philosophy values the perspective of continuous existence and the need to use both Western and Indian philosophies, just like the different purposes of buying shirts, to understand the timeless and relatable nature of epics like the Ramayan.
  • Ramayana and Mahabharata were read by every King in India for 2000 years, making it an investment for personal growth rather than just a story, and these epics have influenced cultures worldwide.
  • The ancient Indian literature addresses fundamental human issues that are still relevant today, such as managing large kingdoms, inheritance, and property disputes, regardless of technological advancements or wealth.
  • Jealousy cannot be eliminated through technology, as human nature has remained unchanged for thousands of years, and understanding and addressing basic human needs, such as hunger, is crucial for success in entrepreneurship and hiring.
  • Epics are able to endure and remain valuable over time because they tap into relatable human nature and continue to be relevant across generations.

01:07:36 πŸ”‘ Understanding symbols and design is crucial for effective communication, studying philosophy helps find meaning in life beyond material possessions, and spreading positivity and creating friendships is more important than being recognized for accomplishments.

  • 500 years ago, the richest man in India was a banker named Veerji Vora, who had a net worth of 8 million pounds and was the banker to the East India Company and the Mughal Empire, but very few people know about him compared to the famous figures from that time period.
  • Symbols play a crucial role in communication, and understanding their meanings and designing them correctly is important for effective communication in various fields such as business and politics.
  • Understanding art and design is crucial for effective communication and creating impactful presentations, as it involves studying symbols, colors, and layouts to make people feel confident and engaged.
  • Studying philosophy is important for examining and finding meaning in life, and it involves introspection, contemplation, and asking oneself how to bring value and live a fulfilled life beyond material possessions and titles.
  • Can you live a life unrecognized? We often assume that we are recognized for our accomplishments, but in reality, we will eventually be forgotten, so it is better to spread positivity and create friendships rather than investing in weapons and negativity.
  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of emotional growth and self-reflection, and expresses gratitude for the opportunity to delve deeper into the fascinating and diverse topics of Indian mythology with the hope of having more detailed discussions in the future.

Key Insights

Long-term Perspective and Impact on Society

  • πŸ’‘ The concept of exchange in business can be seen as a yagna, where the more value you create for others, the more you receive in return.
  • πŸ’° The Indian model of business focuses more on investment than return, prioritizing long-term happiness over immediate gains.
  • πŸ’° The concept of Vishnu in Hinduism teaches us the importance of being a serial investor who doesn't care for immediate returns, but thinks long term and is continuously investing in various aspects of life.
  • 🌍 The Indian concept of success goes beyond self-actualization and emphasizes the impact on society, industry, and the greater good.
  • πŸ”„ When your success is an outcome of other people's success, you have created a virtue cycle.
  • 🧠 Indian philosophy takes a long-term perspective, emphasizing the concept of rebirth and cycles, which challenges the Western notion of a single lifetime.
  • 🧠 Indian philosophy values the concept of no beginning and no ending, contrasting with Western philosophy's focus on finish and start, highlighting the importance of embracing both perspectives.
  • πŸ’£ Instead of investing in weapons and creating enemies, it would be smarter to focus on creating friendships and spreading positivity, as exemplified by the success of the Jewish people.

Relevance of Indian Mythology in Modern India

  • 🌟 "Indian mythology continues to be very relevant in Modern India."
  • πŸ“š Ancient Indian mythology is a treasure trove of ideas and insights that are often overlooked and can be applied to various aspects of life.
  • πŸ’° "What made me money was my job and what made me happy was my mythology, and one day the two came together."
  • πŸ“š The Ramayana and Mahabharata epics have been influential for thousands of years, with kings in India studying them as a manual for leadership, highlighting their enduring significance in Indian culture.
  • 🌟 The epics of ancient Indian philosophy understood human nature and created relatable stories that continue to resonate with every generation.

Interdisciplinary Studies and Unity of Knowledge

  • 🌍 The importance of interdisciplinary studies and the unity of all knowledge is highlighted, emphasizing the need to connect different subjects and see the interconnectedness of human knowledge.
  • πŸ“š Devdutt Pattanaik emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement through practice rather than seeking perfection.
  • πŸ’° Understanding how wealth is generated is crucial, whether it's through a job, business, or other means.
  • πŸ“š Philosophy is the examination of life, and studying it helps us find our own answers to the question of why we are alive.


Q1: How did Devdutt make Indian mythology contemporary and relevant for Modern India?

A1: Devdutt, a former medical professional and renowned mythologist, author, and speaker, played a pivotal role in making Indian mythology accessible and relevant for Modern India. He transitioned from his career in medicine and the pharma sector to delve deeper into the stories of Indian mythology. With a passion for exploring ancient wisdom, he wrote over 60 books on Indian mythology, making it accessible to people from all walks of life. What set Devdutt apart was his unique style of using mythology to solve problems and convey messages. His books offered a humorous and relatable approach to ancient Indian mythology, making them a joy to read. Additionally, he found connections between mythology and various subjects, including business and leadership, which further enhanced the relevance of Indian mythology in contemporary settings. Through his work and interactions, Devdutt was able to bring mythology into various settings, be it office setups or social gatherings, ensuring that the ancient wisdom of Indian mythology resonated with modern India.

Q2: How does focusing on communication and design enhance the author's illustrations?

A2: The author of the book discussed in the transcript believes that effective communication involves not only words but also various visual elements. She spends hours discussing and perfecting bullet points, graphic designs, and layouts to enhance communication. By focusing on communication and design, the author's illustrations are able to bring concepts to life in a vivid and engaging manner. The author emphasizes the importance of studying art and various visual mediums to improve illustration skills. As a result, the illustrations created by the author are not only visually appealing but also effectively convey the intended messages. Her books have gained popularity among entrepreneurs, athletes, and businesspeople, who find inspiration and practical tools for success in her illustrations. Drawing on the rich cultural heritage of India, the author incorporates powerful tools and concepts for success into her illustrations, making them both informative and visually captivating.

Q3: How do business strategies influenced by war tactics impact businesses and society?

A3: Business strategies influenced by war tactics can have a toxic impact on businesses and society as a whole. The use of violent and dominating language, such as "crush competition" and "dominate the market," often taught in business schools, perpetuates a harmful mindset. Additionally, the prevalence of violent media and entertainment further contributes to this toxic mindset in society. The author suggests that business should be about creating value, building trust, and fostering healthy competition, rather than resorting to violent or unethical tactics. It is important to acknowledge that certain colonial mindsets, such as the dominance-driven approach of the East India Company, still influence modern business practices. By shifting focus towards value creation and ethical practices, businesses can work towards fostering a more collaborative and sustainable environment.

Q4: Why do Indian entrepreneurs lack innovation and rely on controlling resources for wealth generation?

A4: The lack of innovation among Indian entrepreneurs, leading them to rely on controlling resources for wealth generation, can be attributed to various factors. While there are exceptions, it is true that many of the richest people in the world are brand creators and innovators. In India, however, entrepreneurs often rely on controlling resources such as mining, which can limit their ability to explore innovative ideas and initiatives. This commoditization of entrepreneurship in India hampers creativity and often stagnates growth. To address this issue, the author suggests that individuals should start asking how others around them generate wealth and learn from their experiences. Understanding economic principles and their application is crucial for fostering innovation and success. By encouraging a mindset shift towards innovation and leveraging knowledge and expertise, Indian entrepreneurs can break away from resource-based wealth generation and foster a more innovative and dynamic entrepreneurial landscape.

Note - This content is generated by AI, we believe it is accurate, but we don’t claim any liability of inaccuracies in the AI generated content.

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